Indoor dining and gyms: How Berlin's new eased Covid rules affect you
On Friday, Berlin is reopening more of public life earlier than planned due to falling Covid numbers. Here's a look at the plans and what you can expect in the coming weeks.
Indoor dining reopens - with testing
Due to a sharp drop in the infection rate in the capital, Berlin's planned step-by-step reopening plan is being brought forward.
The Berlin Senate announced the new roadplan out of lockdown on Tuesday.
From Friday June 4th, restaurants - and other hospitality venues like bars and cafes - can open their indoor space for guests. People who want to eat or drink indoors will need to provide a negative Covid test, senator for economic affairs Ramona Pop (Greens) said on Friday.
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Bars and restaurants can open longer
From Friday, the ban on selling alcohol will change. It will be in place from 12 midnight until 5am, rather than 11pm to 5am. That means restaurants and bars can stay open for an hour longer.
No Covid test needed for terraces or shopping
Meanwhile, mandatory Covid testing for visiting all shops and for outdoor dining is being lifted from June 4th.
It means that people visiting an outdoor terrace or going shopping will no longer have to show they have had a recent negative rapid Covid test.
"This makes it possible to sit down for a quick coffee," Pop said. Contact tracing has to remain in place.
"These are big steps we are taking here," Pop said. "We hope that caution will continue.
Flea markets will also be allowed to reopen.
Gyms can open
Starting Friday, gyms and other fitness studios have also been given the green light to reopen, with restrictions such as mandatory testing and limits on the number of people.
Indoor sport in groups of a maximum of 10 people can take place, with compulsory testing for adults.
Outdoor swimming pools already opened on May 21st, and continue to require an appointment and negative test.
Events and culture
Under the plans, outdoor events with up to 500 participants will also be allowed again, while indoor events can permit 100 people. With technical ventilation of areas, 500 people is also possible.
Testing will be "generally compulsory" with groups above 250 people outdoors and for indoor events, compulsory testing will be in place for groups of 11 people or more. Hygiene plans will be needed for all events.
Cinemas and other cultural facilities will also be allowed to reopen with rules similar to those of events.
Culture Senator Klaus Lederer (the Left) said: "Notable cultural events will be possible from Friday again."
For museums, galleries as well as memorials, a negative coronavirus test is generally no longer needed as of Friday. But restrictions will remain such as limits on number of people - so check in case you need to book a spot before visiting a venue or if there are other requirements.
Social contact rules eased
Private meetings will be allowed with more people from Friday. Up to six people from three households will be allowed to meet indoors, and up to 10 people from five households can meet outdoors. Up until this point two households with up to five people have been allowed to meet.
Children under 14 are not included in the contact rules.
Under nationwide rules, fully vaccinated people and those who've recently recovered from Covid-19 do not face contact restrictions.
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Funerals and weddings
Private events for special occasions such as funeral ceremonies, weddings and baptisms will be allowed with up to 50 people outdoors and indoors from Friday. Compulsory testing is needed with groups of more than 11 people.
Universities can open libraries, pools and work rooms as well as hold face-to-face events in small groups with hygiene plans.
The Senate says Berlin schools can fully return to face-to-face teaching starting June 9th. This will then apply for the last two weeks before summer holidays begin.
Hotels to welcome tourists
Hotels in Berlin will also be allowed to reopen to tourists earlier than previously planned. They will be allowed to accommodate guests again from June 11th. There will be no occupancy limits, but hygiene concepts will continue to apply, as well as testing requirements. The date has been coordinated with Brandenburg.
Opening of hotels in Berlin was originally scheduled for June 18th.
Why is Berlin moving the reopening forward?
Berlin has seen a large decline of coronavirus cases in recent weeks. On Tuesday the 7-day incidence rate stood at 33.6 Covid cases per 100,000 people. In neighbouring Brandenburg, the 7-day incidence has dropped to 18.4 statewide.
"We've really been able to bring the numbers down in the last few days significantly, as few expected," said Berlin's mayor Michael Müller (SPD). "We've done well to get through the year and a half."
"Against the backdrop of falling numbers, it is right to give back as much as possible as early as possible in terms of opportunities for movement, in sports and hospitality. We've brought a lot of things forward."
Opening steps nationwide
Germany entered a shutdown to try and slow the spread of Covid in November 2020, but reopening of public life has been happening across the country in recent weeks, often with mandatory testing requirements.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the danger level for Germany had been downgraded to "high" rather than "very high" risk.
“The situation is getting significantly better,” Spahn said, “but we are still in the middle of this pandemic."